Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for knee injuries

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is sometimes used to help diagnose an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, meniscus tear, or other knee injury.

An MRI of the knee provides images of the soft tissues, which include the knee ligaments, cartilage, menisci, and tendons. Most abnormality in the appearance or shape of the ACL and other soft tissues can be seen. The image can also show whether the knee cartilage is torn.

An MRI of the knee is often not needed because a health professional who is familiar with knee injuries can usually diagnose a severe ACL injury or a meniscus tear from a thorough medical history and physical examination. However, MRI is useful in identifying additional injuries to the knee joint.

The decision to have arthroscopy or further surgery can usually be made after a physical exam. If arthroscopy is planned, then an MRI is usually not necessary.

For more information on MRI, see the topic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Knee.

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